10 Years On, A Man I’ll Never Forget

This video popped up in my newsfeed today and it made me cry…

Video courtesy of Spread the Message

Exactly 10 years ago I worked for the Asthma society in Dublin. Each morning, we would all pile into a car or a van and get dropped off, one by one, in various locations around Dublin city to sell scratch cards to raise money. A different location everyday, I met a vast range of strange and unusual people.

During the time I worked there (roughly three weeks), I got two free tickets to see Red Hot Chilli Peppers from a guy who said his friends weren’t coming and did I want to sell them to raise money, I almost got hit by a car who hit the curb on the sidewalk a little too hard and bounced the car into my just-jumped-out-of spot (he donated $10 to me as he ‘almost killed’ me) and I spent many a time hiding in department store doorways with the security guard sheltering from the rain and chitchatting about the weather.

But the one thing that I remember the most and that I will forever remember is the homeless man I met outside the convenience store I was stationed at one afternoon.

He sat on the ground on the busy main street with his Styrofoam cup, jingling it slightly as people exited the store. He had long shaggy hair and a scruffy beard and was nestled among a backpack and a blanket. I stood diagonal to him, sporting a summer dress, an ID badge, my official vest, my scratch cards in hand and my big white money-collecting bucket at my feet.

People would walk by, ignore him, ignore me, go on with their day. We would smile at each other occasionally, he’d wave to me, watch me if a crowd came and they seemed to be getting to close to me. There’d been a rash of white buckets being stolen recently and I was worried in the busy street someone would steal my bucket, maybe he could sense that.

He’d talk to me a little, ask about my day, make comments about the street, the people. Nothing rude. Just general talk. He seemed kind and gentle, gregarious even, and I found myself sad people were ignoring him.

At the end of the day, it was time for me to pack up what little I had raised and head back to base but as I took off my vest the homeless man vacated his nest of worldly belongings and made his way over to me. As it turns out, he was equally sad people were ignoring me and with a gentle, knowing voice told me that he wants to help. He extended his weathered hand to mine and handed me some change from his Styrofoam cup. I stood staring in disbelief that this man, who has almost nothing would give me money for charity. He settled himself back into his spot on the opposite side of the sidewalk, nodded at me and smiled.

And 10 years on, I’ve never forgotten him.

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